Julian Williams
Michael Spooner

For the future of our world every child needs to grow up a climate change warrior- how can the architecture of school nurture this?

From our earliest experiences in school, we are confined to highly regulated, controlled and moderated realms, unimpeded by the vicissitudes of the weather, nature and the seasons, and with the classroom becoming an insulated space from which we learn about the world beyond.

To begin to address these questions, we worked with St John the Divine primary school in Kennington, running science workshops and getting a good insight into the child’s world.
Designs to transform the existing school grounds, including new teaching and community spaces, invited practical speculation that architecture could be a ‘third teacher’: a direct and didactic agent in children’s learning about the world about them through embodied experiences.

The follow-up major project was the design of single form entry primary school for a site in North Lambeth. It was to be conceived as a model school following the tradition of the London Board School. To this end the students grounded their work in ideas of learning, reflected on landscapes to nurture growth and self-discovery and examined the idea of the school as a microcosm of an alternative city.

The work involve diverse explorations: reflections on the spaces of children’s fiction; the sublime as childhood experience; the exhilaration of urban terrain as both landscapes and ruins; the school as a village or farm in the city; and schools shaped not by classrooms or lesson plans but multifarious places for learning and discovery.
Climate Change has brought not only a heightened awareness of the impact of material and constructional decisions but the opportunity to revisit their phenomenological parameters.

We'd like to thank ...
Roman Pardon (Pardon Chambers Architects), Will Mclean (UoW), Stephen Harty (DS(3)3), Nick Pople (Nicholas Pople Architect), Bruce Irwin (DS3(5), Thomas Grove (DS(3)1).
With Special thanks to...
John Camilleri, Catherine Warland and the staff and pupils of St John the Divine Primary School, Kennington.
Karen Fitzsimon MA CLMI.